Q: Do you Mallex Smith starting CF Opening Day? How good do you seem him being?
What other moves would you make this offseason? Would you trade Teheran? What cost.
A: I do not see Mallex as the opening day CF. I think they will trade Cameron Maybin and Michael Bourn will be the opening day CF. Mallex will likely begin in Gwinnett, but I could see him being in Atlanta sometime next summer. As far as his ceiling, well, I’m not certain. I like him. I think he could be a Bourn-type player. Coaches love him. They think he is still getting better. I know when the trade was made the Braves’ front office believed Mallex was the jewel of the trade that no one was talking about. There’s not much to complain about his offensive game. His defense could use some improvement on routes and his arm is suspect at times. But he has a lot of potential. What would I do? I would trade Maybin and Julio Teheran to get more talent. I would sign Zach Greinke. Yes, I still have the man crush on Greinke. I would make that investment. Having that ace would allow them to let the rotation to somewhat flow downhill. Having Greinke at the top of the rotation for the next 5-6 years would get one major need out of the way. He is worth the investment. Then they would be able to truly pick the BEST pitchers for the rotation over the next few years and use the extras to get tremendous position players.
Q: Coppy said Aybar was a big part of the Simmons trade and actually makes them better positioned to win in 2016. Sounds like pure GM speak to me as most seem to think he'll be flipped for more prospects. Do you think Aybar ever suits up as the Braves SS?
A: I think they will listen to offers for Aybar. It would not shock me if he is the shortstop on opening day next year, but they’d be nuts not to listen. He’s not going to be around for the long-term. I would not keep him. I would trade him. Save some money and invest it elsewhere (Greinke!) and get a decent prospect in return. Then they could go find a shortstop who is cheaper to bridge the gap until Albies is ready.
Q: Assuming Freeman isn't going to be traded, the most valuable trade chips the Braves have left are pitchers, Teheran and Miller. Do you see one being traded this offseason for hitting or will they be traded for even more pitching? If more pitching, how do you see the offense being improved?
A: I believe they will listen on Teheran. I don’t see Miller being traded. Teheran has a lot of value. He’s still young (25) and has a decent contract. I think they could get two significant pieces back in return for Teheran. What would I ask for Teheran? I’d want a starting pitching prospect (ALWAYS) and a bat. Or I would just ask for a significant bat in return. Sure, I’d want Jorge Soler from the Cubs, for example. They will get a bat in return for Teheran. We’ll see what kind of bat it is. I think the outfield could be Olivera in LF, Bourn in CF and Markakis in RF. We’ll see about third base. They could bring Kelly Johnson or Juan Uribe back. They’ll find another bat.
Q: Are the Braves serious about competing for a division title in 2017, or are have they pushed the time table back to the 2018-2019 seasons? I know they are serious about building a sustainable winner long term, but there isn't much talk about signing any hitters this year. Trading for young hitters is expensive, and it takes time for those young hitters to mature. It appears on the face that the Braves front office has realized this and started preparing for 2018 as the year they really make their push.
A: Yes they want to compete in 2017, but the real chance at a World Series team may be more realistic in 2018 or 2019. It’s a process, and it does not happen overnight. How do you know there isn’t much talk about signing any hitters? They don’t really like the big-name free agent position players, but believe me, they are talking about hitters. Timetables are dangerous. They want to take a step forward in 2016, maybe compete for a wildcard in 2017 and then in 2018, well, we’ll see.
Q: Bill there are a few teams needing pitching that have available offense like the Cubs. Would you take on Castro to get Baez or Soler?
A: In a heartbeat. Baez and Soler are two very good young offensive players. I would think if the Cubs would talk about either player, the Braves would be at the front of the line.
FROM I keep hearing get pitchers and you can trade them for hitters, but then when the Olivera deal was made the same people were saying it's expensive to trade for hitters. So are the Braves going about this rebuild the right way?
A: Yes. I am a pitching-first guy. I think you construct a base of pitchers and then self-scout to find the best ones to keep. If you accumulate enough, some of the ‘best ones’ will likely need to be traded, which will be tremendous currency to find the hitters and position players you need. But you never stop accumulating pitchers. Never. I think at some point the Braves will make a huge trade for a bat and use pitchers as the price.
Q: Would Atlanta consider signing a player with a QO attached if the right offer presented itself?
A: I think for the right player, yes. They value draft picks greatly, however, so it would have to be the perfect situation. They’d give up that compensation pick if they signed one this winter.
Q: How is Max Fried doing?
A: I haven’t heard specifically anything negative to make me think his comeback is not going well. But I will ask about him soon and get a more specific answer on that.
Q: Why did the braves trade for a 30 year old hitter yet still trade away the best defensive SS in the game for more prospects?
A: They love Olivera’s offensive potential. They were worried about Wood’s long-term potential to remain healthy and felt he would be a 4th starter in a good rotation. The explanation for the Simmons trade has been outlined in my column I wrote on Friday. They are taking clear advantage of his value to get a high-caliber pitching prospect who they believe can possibly be a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
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